Among the many factors that are cited as influencing the rise of Nazism, beyond Adolf Hitler, are “German philosophy, romantic mysticism, anti-Semitism, the ‘stab in the back’ argument aimed at the Weimar Republic, German big business, the German economy in the wake of the Versailles treaty, the Prussian tradition, insidious occultism associated with ‘ariosophy,’ and the threat of Stalinist communism.”

Heidegger’s embrace of National Socialism is exceptional only for the importance of his thought and the depth of his commitment. But his failure to oppose Nazism is typical of the behavior of German philosophers in general. It is not well known, in part because German philosophy during the Nazi period has not often been studied, that German philosophy played an equivocal role at this time. It has been said that German philosophy failed in three different ways: in removing or even weakening the barriers against National Socialism, in creating an intellectual atmosphere propitious to it, and in apologizing for it. Certainly, German philosophers both collectively and individually did little to prevent the rise of Nazism.